February 2019
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Reduce poverty by tackling 3Es – education, employability and employment

ICTpost Education Bureau

India has a formidable set up of engineering and technical institutions. However, many of them are low in terms of the standard of education imparted. In the pursuit of expanding engineering education in the country, academic excellence must be given equal priority, President Pranab Mukherjee said recently.Engineering is a preferred discipline accounting for one fourth of total enrolment in higher education. Annual enrolment in engineering tripled during the course of the Eleventh Plan Period, he said.
Several studies have shown that though the country produces a staggering number of engineering, business and other kinds of graduates and postgraduates every year, only a handful of them meet the needs of recruiters. Many large companies have their own training programmes for new recruits, while a number of others like Airtel or the Future Group are setting up training institutes.
Only a small section of our educated youth is readily employable. About 58 per cent are impaired by some sort of skill deprivation – last mile, interventional or structural.Every engineering and technical institution must make an all-out effort to help India develop a large pool of proficient scientific and technical manpower. Engineering and technology have to be driven by competent engineers and scientists. The starting point has to be the quality of products emanating from the education system.Unfortunately, demand and supply as far as employable youth are concerned have become parallel universes. Curriculum and pedagogy at teaching institutions are increasingly being set by people who do not understand what companies want. Also, curricula get outdated. For example, we still teach a mechanic about carburettors even though no car in India has them any more.
ICT for Skilled India
There is a need to develop new business models that use ICT for training the trainers, creating infrastructure and for reducing remoteness. Developing skilled manpower becomes the most important concern for the country, where ICT would play a role. The extensive use of ICT is required for major skills movement in the country. Effective and transparent government-citizen interface will happen only through technology use. The Role of Information & Communication Technologies takes a slightly broader perspective on challenges and interventions within the field of Skills Development, looking at how ICT offers various possibilities to make a significant difference in addressing issues of quality, access and equity.
India is in an education emergency
The obvious challenge is the so-called demographic dividend. But that only focuses on the flow – the one million young people who will join the labour force every month for the next 20 years. The more subtle challenge is the labour stock – there may be another 300 million people who are stuck in low-productive jobs. The employability challenge is complicated and compounded because of three mismatches. There is geographic mismatch (over the next 20 years jobs will be in a different state from where the labour force hails from), sector mismatch (people currently employed in sectors that will not see the high job and salary growth) and skill mismatch (people have skillsets different from what investors are looking for). The only sustainable way to reduce poverty is by tackling the 3Es – education, employability and employment.

The entire ecosystem – assessment, counselling, curriculum, teacher training, apprenticeships and placements – should be job oriented. State policies need to figure out how to make public money available for private delivery – evolve some kind of skill voucher. There is also need to link financing to outcomes rather than inputs. Finally, regulations around school and higher education need to be made flexible for new models of delivery and creation of vertical mobility between certificates, diplomas, associate degrees and degrees. This vertical mobility is the key to multiple exits and entry ramps in the vocational system, as well as remove the impression that vocational training is dead end.